Net Censorship

Net Censorship Most of us have used it. Most of us find it useful, Some of us find it entertaining. Some of us find it offensive. It is the Internet. The Internet has dramatically changed our society. It brings together people and their ideas from all around the world in a short amount of time. It is expanding daily to allow new ideas and thought s to be transmitted quickly and easily with the single click of a button. One can find information on almost any subject there.

Yet many people are trying to censor it. The Internet contains racist thoughts, sexually explicit material and much more inappropriate material. But who is it inappropriate for and why should it be censored? In 1996 the Communications Decency Amendment was passed by congress. This amendment imposed a $100,000 fine or a 2-year jail term on anyone who used the Internet to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass anyone else. Pro-censors believed the act to be necessary in order to extend the standards of decency to the new telecommunications device. Anti-censors thought the amendment was acting like the thought police.

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Recently though the Supreme Court overturned the Communications Decency Act in the civil case of Reno v. ACLU. This new law states that the Internet deserves the same level of speech protection as books or other printed material. Even with this new law in effect many people are still trying and some are succeeding at censoring the Internet. They are creating schemes to block and rate the net.

A meeting recently took place at the White House about this subject. Several industry leaders and the government agreed to try to originate a variety of systems to block and regulate controversial online speech. Despite the Supreme Court these leaders are inching toward the dangerous and incorrect understanding that the Internet is like television and should be rated and/or censored. During this meeting many announcements took place. Netscape, a major online server, proclaimed their plans to join Microsoft, a major computer company, and adopt the Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS). PICS is a rating standard that established a consistent way to rate and block online content.

IBM also had an announcement: They have decided to make a $100,000 grant to Recreational Software Advisory Council (RSAC), another rating system. They did this in hopes of encouraging its use. Senator Patty Murray of New York announced of a proposed legislation that would tax civil and ultimately criminal penalties on those who mis-rate a website. What will be the result of all these actions? The Internet will become bland and homogenized. The major commercial sites will still be readily available but those who circulate quirky and idiosyncratic speech, those who create their own home pages or post to controversial news groups will be the first to be blocked by filters and made invisible by the search engines.

They will still be there but available only to those with the know how and the tools. Does this material deserve to be censored anyway? Internet users know best what they are looking at. If it offends them, they should move on. The primary responsibility for determining what speech to access and what speech not to access should remain up to the Internet user not filters. Many parents have a problem with their children and the Internet. There are many suggestions and ideas for controlling what they are viewing.

The parents should also have they computer in a room where they can look over the childs shoulders every once in a while to check up on them. The parents should put time restrictions on usage of the computer. There are many solutions to this problem. In conclusion the Internet is a quickly growing addition to our culture., It informs, entertains and can possible offend. But with the Supreme Courts ruling, no one should be allowed to censor it. The Internet is a never-ending worldwide conversation that deserves the highest protection from government intrusion.


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